51st Annual Blake Jones Trout Derby – March 16, 2019!!!
The 50th edition of the Blake Jones Trout Derby is “in the books” and by all accounts, it was a resounding success! Nearly 700 anglers of all ages fished Pleasant Valley Reservoir and the Owens River near Bishop on March 17th vying for their share of more than $10,000 in prizes. More than 1,300 fish were weighed-in, with several lunkers over 5 pounds. It’s important to note that the Bishop Chamber of Commerce purchased more than 3,000 pounds of catchable rainbows from Desert Springs Trout Farm prior to the derby to make sure there would be plenty of fish to go around.
Prizes were awarded by a blind bogey raffle and this year’s target weight was 11 ounces. All participants with fish matching that weight were entered into a raffle and Dave Luther of Pilot Point, Texas was the big winner. He received a North Fork Outdoors Float Tube and a big package of fishing supplies. Other Blind Bogey prize recipients were Travis Cano and Albert Cano of Bishop, Isaac Gonzales of Lancaster, David Romano of Rialto and Morgan Causey of Santa Clarita. Cheyenne Yeager of Bishop brought in the biggest fish – a 9lb, 4oz monster. Brodie Banning of Bishop was thrilled to take home 1st place prize package in the kids’ blind bogey. Eric Stone of Bishop won the Dave Scadden Kayak raffle and Paul Garrison of Blue Jay, California won the commemorative quilt made from vintage Blake Jones Derby t-shirts. All in all, loads of anglers took home loads of great prizes!
While the Bishop Chamber is the proud organizer of the beloved annual event, it’s important to note that they rely on a solid group of volunteers to make it all happen. Special thanks to Steve Ivey, Bert Brown and Brown’s Supply for operating the PVR shuttle truck and thanks to ESTA for transporting anglers to and from the fairgrounds. Thanks to Vicki Simpson and Inyo County Community Work Service Program, Dan McElroy and crew from City of Bishop Parks & Recreation for all of the “heavy lifting.” Hal Reuter and his crew did a fantastic job weighing all the fish and the Chamber is ever-grateful for the many volunteers that helped with registration, check-in and raffles.
Many local and national businesses support the Blake Jones Derby by providing co-sponsorship funds and merchandise used for prizes. 2018 sponsors include: 5B Fishing Club, Aerohead Cycles, Alex Printing, Alpine Signs/The 395 Store, Amigo’s Restaurant, Anne Marie’s Home Boutique, Ashley Furniture, Back Alley Bowling Alley, Berkley, Bishop Automotive Center, Bishop Country Club, Bishop Heating & Air, Bishop Twin Theater, Bishop Veterinary Hospital, Blakemore TTI, Body & Soul, BP Distributing, Booya, Brown’s Town Campground, BUHS Ag Mechanics Class, CA Department of Fish & Wildlife, Carl’s Jr., CDF/Owens Valley Camp, City of Bishop, Comfort Inn, Community Printing, Convict Lake Resort, County of Inyo, Crowley Lake Fish Camp, Culver’s Sporting Goods, Dean’s Plumbing, Double Eagle Resort, Doug’s RV Storage, Dr. Slick, Eagle Claw, Eastern Sierra Propane, Eastern Sierra Realty, Eastern Sierra Transit/Dial-A- Ride, El Pollo Loco, Erick Schat’s Bakkery, Fish Taco Chronicles, Gillespie Distributing, Hendrix, High Country Lumber, Holy Smoke Texas BBQ, Home Lumber Company, Imperial Gourmet, Ingraham Trophies, Inyo Mono Title, The Inyo Register, Inyo Shell Y Mart, Keough’s Hot Springs, KIBS/KBOV RADIO, Kmart, KMMT/KRHV Radio, La Casita, Looney Bean, Los Angeles Dept of Water & Power, Robert Lowthorp, DDS, Macs Sporting Goods, Mammoth Mountain, Manor Market, McDonald’s, Meadow Farms Smokehouse, The Meat House, Mr. K Automotive, Mule Days Celebration, Northern Inyo Hospital, North Fork Outdoors, Our Water Works Car Wash, Paiute Palace Casino, Peter Tracy, Attorney At Law, Pintail Imaging, Pizza Factory, Preferred Septic & Disposal, Pure Fishing, Rainbow Meal Worms. Reagan’s Sporting Goods, Shimano, Sierra Maps, Sierra Wave Media, Simplicity Salon, Tom’s Place Resort, Turner’s Outdoors, Vagabond Inn, Vons, Woodruff, David & Gail, Wright & McGill.
Held every March since 1968, The Blake Jones Trout Derby is always held the weekend after the Fred Hall Sports Show in Long Beach. The site of the derby is along the Owens River, just below the Pleasant Valley Reservoir, six miles north of Bishop.
Fishing during the derby is allowed in the reservoir and along the Owens River (avoid barbless, catch & release area below PVR campground.) Loads of trout are planted just before the derby by both Desert Springs Trout Farm and the DFW (formally DFG). You can enter your catch in any number of categories including “Blind Bogey” for a chance to win your part of over $10,000 in prizes including high quality rod & reel combos, float tubes, custom lures, lodging, dinners and other goodies from local merchants and friends of the Bishop Chamber.
Put on by the Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau, this pre-season event is a great chance to wet your line and hone your fishing skills while getting a chance to win big prizes!
New This Year
2018 was the first year registration, weigh-in and awards ceremony were held at the Eastern Sierra Tri- County Fairgrounds and that proved to be great idea. “We heard many positive comments about the change,” explained April Leeson of the Bishop Chamber. “Plus, we were able to enhance the derby by including fly-tying demonstrations, informational displays, plus food and beverages provided by Billy Bob’s and the Bishop Lions Club. The fairgrounds staff was so helpful and the venue worked out really well.”
Fees: Adults $20/ Child $10
Day-of registration Starts at 6am
Weigh Your Catch By 3pm
Awesome Prizes! Win Cash, Float Tubes, Rod & Reel Combos…Loads of Fishing Gear To Be Awarded!
Register Online, by Mail or at Tri-County Fairgrounds the Day of Derby
Interesting history about the derby…..
Who was Blake Jones?
Whenever you bait your hook with Powerbait or any of the other modern cheese baits, you can thank the late Blake Jones. Jones invented cheese bait which was unique when it was introduced back in the 1950s. Before Blake Jones came along anglers had to use Velveeta cheese spread or cut small pieces from a block of cheese which easily fell off the hook when immersed in water. Blake’s special cheese bait stayed on the hook even during heavy casting.
But Blake Jones was probably best known as one of the legendary anglers Bishop. Along with his wife, Peggy, he fished all over the high country and taught hundreds of people how to fish the lakes and streams of the High Sierra. Longtime local resident and business owner Don Barrett explained.
“They were the type of people who would never hesitate and help people fish. They might hand someone a jar of bait and show them how to use it. They were just that way.”
The couple took their knowledge of fishing the local waters to various trade shows in Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Francisco. With his charismatic personality, Jones became an outstanding spokesman for Bishop and the Eastern High Sierra and helped turn Bishop into a vacation destination.
The Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce which had been holding an annual fishing derby since 1968 decided to honor Jones for his work and dedication by renaming the derby after him. Unfortunately, Blake Jones died on June 14, 1987 before the first derby bearing his name took place.
Marvin Jones said:
“My father was a serious fisherman and he always wanted to help someone. He was a good public relations man. He always wanted to be sure the other person always caught a fish. He went to a lot of work to fish.”